Today we’re talking about our third brain-body loop to help us become smarter about becoming stronger; one of the most neglected areas of training.
Quick review. We’ve been talking about becoming smarter about becoming stronger and why do we do this? I’ve worked with thousands of people, we have thousands of people that are certified trainers that spread out to working with hundreds of thousands of people around the globe and the key piece that we run into probably in 80 to 90% of our clients is they have some level of strength deficit.
Video 1: https://zhealtheducation.com/episode-137-strength-and-the-threat-bucket/
Video 2: https://zhealtheducation.com/episode-138-getting-smarter-about-strength-neural-drive/
Video 3: https://zhealtheducation.com/episode-139-getting-smarter-about-strength-coordination/
Now, that strength deficit plays into what we call the threat bucket, which we talked about in our first video. If you’re too weak, you can have a bad output. All right? If I’m weak, I may have pain. If I’m weak, I may not perform well in the gym or at sports or at home. If I’m weak in the wrong areas, I may be more likely to be injured.
We’ve said, “Hey let’s actually look at what people do in the real world. Look at their training modalities and see how that matches up with what we now know about how the brain and body communicate. From there we’ve talked about two brain body loops already that are involved in helping us become stronger and more coordinated.
The first video we talked about what’s called neural drive. The second video we then talked about movement coordination and how movement coordination is a different loop and it’s very important also in becoming stronger.
Now in our third video, probably one of the most difficult areas of the brain to understand, but hypercritical, is understanding how our brain and body talk to one another in order to prepare us for movement.
This is going to play a key piece in thinking ahead to what kind of changes can I make in my training in order to become more injury resistant and perform better.
I’m going to make this as simple as possible. Again this is actually an area of brain science that’s still developing so we don’t have all the answers yet even but we have enough information to make us consider it. What we’re going to look at … I’m going to draw a bigger brain this time.
We’re not going to worry so much about what’s happening out in the rest of the body so I’m just going to put a brain. I’m going to put a spinal cord here. We’ve been talking about this idea that movement originates in the frontal lobe in what’s called the motor cortex.
That motor cortex is going to send signals down through the spinal cord. It’s going to go out and talk to the muscle fibers. The muscle fibers are going to send information back up the spinal cord to talk to the cerebellum. The cerebellum is going to say, “Hey is that the movement that you wanted to do?” If not, it’s going to send signals back up to the frontal lobe to correct it.
Now that’s all awesome, all right? That’s the basic movement loop in the body. The one thing that we haven’t talked about yet is the fact that prior to doing anything, we have to prepare ourselves all right?
Preparation is really related to prediction, okay? We need to prepare and preparation again comes from prediction.
Now we all know this already because we know that if we do something a lot, we develop skill at it. Skill at its most basic level is being able to predict more accurately what’s about to happen. Whenever we can predict what’s about to happen, we can prepare for it.
Now from a strength training perspective, why this is so critical is that for every movement that I do, I need to have great control and coordination of the centerline of my body meaning my core. People have talked about core.
We know that core exercises and core stabilization and all this stuff has been around for a long time, but the actual brain body loop that we’re interested in is actually the frontal lobe in talking to an area in the brain. I’m just going to use the initials. I’m going to put the letters B and G. Called the basal ganglia.
Now the basal ganglia is this kind of complicated area and some people call it the basal nuclei but I’m old. That’s how I was taught this years ago. What happens is the basal ganglia and the frontal lobe are talking back and forth. They’re having a conversation.
The basal ganglia is responsible for helping set the tone of the body to prepare us for what’s about to occur.
Whenever we start thinking about, “Hey how do I become stronger?” one of the things that we can work on is increasing our predictive capacity about the stress we’re about to undergo. Now, why does this matter?
Well once again, what we see all the time is we have people come in and say, “Hey I’m a weekend warrior. I love doing sports on the weekends. I’m in a basketball league, but I have knee pain. I’ve been working out for the last five years. I feel like my quads, my hamstrings, everything’s pretty strong.” They do typical strength training and they’ve made some progress but there’s still a barrier in place.
Here’s why that’s important.
If you go back to our first video, we talked about the idea that we build strength in very specific ways. If I go to the gym and my primary exercises involve lunging and squatting and bench pressing et cetera, those are great exercises so don’t hear me saying those are bad.
What I want you to recognize is that those are potentially not improving your strength prediction for what happens on a basketball court
If you think about the leg positions, the body positions, the postural challenges that are going to occur when you’re playing a sport versus when you’re in the gym, well they’re completely different in a lot of ways which explains why we can have very strong athletes that still wind up getting hurt or being unable to rehabilitate completely.
That comes down to, “Hey. Is this brain body loop being educated by the training that we’re doing.”
Our three basic loops. We have our neural drive, we have movement coordination, and finally we have movement prediction and preparation. If we can develop or think through our own exercise programs and say, “How do I take advantage of these free brain body loops?
How can I prepare myself to be in many different positions under many different loads, different rings in motion?” I now start to have a framework where I can think about what can I add to what I’m already doing or how can I begin a different training program in order to maximize results?
There you have it. Those are your three basic brain body loops to help us understand how to become smarter about becoming stronger. In our next video we’re going to talk about some practical examples and ideas about things that you can consider to help optimize your results.